Appealing a denial of Unemployment Insurance

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Greater Boston Legal Services

If the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) says you cannot get Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, you can ask it to look at your case again. This is called appealing a denial. You must file your appeal within 10 days of the date on the notice DUA sends to you. After you file an appeal, DUA will schedule a hearing.

At the hearing, you can tell a DUA hearing officer why you think you should get benefits. You need to submit any evidence you have on UI Online or by mail before the hearing.

You can attend an appeal hearing on your own, even if you do not have a lawyer. Or, your local legal aid office may be able to help.


If you are appealing a DUA decision, you should continue to certify your eligibility and request benefits every week. See Certifying Work Search.

How do I appeal if DUA denies me Unemployment Insurance?

You can apply for a hearing either through your UI Online account or by mail. See the DUA’s instructions.

Sometimes, DUA will send you more than one denial notice. You should file an appeal of each notice separately.

After you file your appeal, make sure to check your UI Online account inbox and your mail every day. DUA will send you a notice when it schedules your hearing.

What is the appeal deadline?

If you want to appeal, you must file an appeal as soon as possible. You must file your appeal within 10 days of the date on the denial notice.

In some cases, you can file your appeal late (but not more than 30 days after the date on the denial notice), if you have “good cause." Examples of good cause include:

  • You or a family member are very sick.
  • You were the victim of domestic violence.
  • You did not receive DUA’s notice on time to appeal because of a delay with the mail.
  • Other serious reasons outside of your control.

Rarely, DUA may let you to file an appeal more than 30 days after the date on the notice if:

  • DUA did not send you the denial notice in your primary language and you filed your appeal within 60 days.
  • You did not receive the denial notice in time to appeal by the deadline, and you file your appeal as soon as you receive it.
  • A DUA employee discouraged you from filing an appeal.
  • Your employer discouraged you from filing an appeal, including by intimidating or harassing you about your unemployment case.
How long does it take to get a hearing date?

The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) says that you should get a hearing within 30 days of the day you file an appeal. The DUA is holding most hearings over the phone or virtually.


Follow the instructions on your hearing notice to access your hearing on the date and time it is scheduled.

If you have any questions, or if you need to reschedule your hearing, call DUA as soon as possible. First try calling the number listed on your hearing notice, or the DUA’s main line at 877-626-6800.

The main numbers for the DUA hearing division offices are:

  • Boston: 1-617-626-5200
  • Lawrence: 1-978-738-4400
  • Brockton: 1-508-894-4777
  • Springfield: 1-413-452-4700
What kind of evidence should I submit for the hearing?

The evidence you need depends on the reason the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) said you are not eligible. Can I get Unemployment Insurance if I was fired? and Can I get Unemployment Insurance if I quit my job? will help you figure out the kind of evidence that will help you if you were fired from or quit your job. See How can I prove my identity to the DUA? for identity verification information.

Submit any information you have about why your job ended. For example, if you quit your job because you were sick, you could submit doctors' notes or bills. Or, if you were fired from your job because you were late for work, you could submit documents showing the reason you were late was outside of your control and that you were not late on purpose. If you have any papers that you want to show to DUA, or any witnesses who can help you, submit them before the hearing. The DUA hearing officer will use the information that you and your employer show at your hearing.

You can find instructions for how to upload evidence before your hearing on the DUA website.

Can my employer appeal?

Yes. If the DUA approves your application for Unemployment Insurance, your employer can appeal the decision to try and stop you from getting benefits. Your employer may want to do this because when their former employees receive UI benefits, they may have to pay more in UI taxes.

If your employer files an appeal, DUA will send you a notice with the date and time of the hearing. You can attend the hearing without a lawyer, but your local legal aid office may also be able to help.

At the hearing, your employer will explain why you should not get benefits. They will also bring evidence like documents and records of your actions at work, to show that it was your fault you lost your job. You should attend the hearing and submit evidence to tell DUA your side of the story. But the DUA, not your employer, decides whether you can get benefits.

Even if your employer appeals the decision approving you to receive benefits, you should continue certifying for benefits each week. DUA will only stop paying your benefits if it reverses its decision.

What if I lose my hearing?

If you lose your hearing, you can appeal the hearing decision. If you do not have a lawyer to help you, you can appeal on your own:

  1. You can appeal to the Board of Review. You have 30 days to appeal to the Board of Review. The DUA will mail instructions to you with your hearing decision. When you appeal to the Board of Review, you can send a letter or other information to show why you feel that you should have won your hearing. You will usually not have a new hearing, but the Board of Review will look at your papers and your case again. You can find instructions on the Board of Review website.
  2. If you do not win your case before the Board of Review, you may file an appeal to the District Court covering the area where you live or where you last worked. You can find the right district court by entering your address on the court website. You must appeal within 30 days after you hear from the Board.

Whether or not you decide to file an appeal of your hearing decision, you may be able to apply for a “waiver” so you don’t have to pay back any benefits the DUA already paid you. See more in Has the DUA asked you to return money they paid you?

What if I miss my appeal deadlines?

You can write to:

Katie Dishnica
Director of Department of Unemployment Assistance
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02114 

In your letter, ask the agency to reconsider its decision. Explain why you missed the appeal and why you should be getting benefits.

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